Misunderstood Tithing – Let’s Have a Party! Deuteronomy 14

Tithing.  An oft talked about topic.  An extensive topic.  So much so that many preachers won’t talk about it, and even more people don’t want to hear any more about it.  It’s funny that most of the “Old Testament” law is ignored (as either having been done away with or ‘fulfilled’), but tithing receives a huge amount of attention.  So I ask, is tithing being done properly (Biblically)?

Well, yes and no.  God does want us to give.  But give to what and for what purpose?

“…you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.”  (ESV) Deut. 14:23

“And if the way is too long for you [the way to Jerusalem where the tithe was to be given], so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, … , then you shall turn it into money and … go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire – oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves.  And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.  And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns…”  (ESV) Deut. 14:24-27

“…you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce … And the Levite, …, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” (ESV) Deut. 14:28-29.

There is more within those verses then just what I quoted, but I want to point out a couple interesting facts about the tithe.

First, part of it was to be used on one’s own little party.  And apologies to the teetotalers out there, but wine and strong drink were allowed!  (Note: I personally don’t drink for personal reasons, but using scripture to claim that one shouldn’t drink isn’t treating scripture correctly.)  Yep, a party before the LORD!

Granted that the ‘party’ was to take place at the “place of God’s choosing,” which became the Temple, but I still find it interesting that one’s own family was to share in the tithe.

Next, note the two reasons for tithing given in these passages: “that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always,” and, “that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”  To fear Him always and to enable blessing.  Two great reasons.

I also find it interesting that the tithe is not only for the Levites (for Christianity, this would probably be understood as pastors, priests, and teachers of ‘religion’), but also for those truly in need of sustenance – the foreigners, widows, orphans, and such!.

There is much more about tithing in scripture.  This post, however, is just to show that there is more to tithing then one learns in Sunday school (presumably).  It also shows a couple very good reasons to tithe.  And lastly, it shows that following God’s commands can be fun – even a party!  A party rejoicing for all that YHVH (the LORD) has given us!  So remember that the next time you are tithing.

Perhaps one of the reasons God asks us to ‘party’ before Him is in memory of one, in my opinion, of the oddest occurrences in scripture.  Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of the elders went up to Mount Sinai (nearby), and “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (ESV) Exodus 24:9-11.  They saw God, heard the thundering and saw the lightnings, and what did they then do?  Ate and drank!  To me, that seems an odd response to an astounding event.  So, perhaps, we are to remember that, and the giving of the Law, when partying at the Temple with some of the tithe money.

Shalom!

– Yosef

If Pigs Could Be Clean – Deuteronomy 14

In Deuteronomy 14 we are given a list of animals that God says we can eat and some general rules with which we can determine ourselves if an animal can be eaten.  This list gives rise to the ‘kosher’ food industry, but really the section is about clean and unclean animals.  Kosher takes in much more then that and isn’t the topic of this post.

In the passage, pigs are singled out as one of the animals that meet half the requirements needed to be clean (and therefore eatable).  And throughout history, eating pork has been one of the activities used as a measurement to show that one is not Jewish.  (Another is not keeping the Sabbath, but that is for a different post.)  And, judging by most Christian breakfasts or pot-lucks, I wonder if that isn’t still true today.  I digress.  Here are a couple comments on the topic of whether or not Christians should pay attention to the ‘kosher’ laws.  This is not meant as a counter argument against all the reasons Christianity has for eating pork.  Just a couple things to think about.

  • The idea of clean and unclean animals predates the giving of the ‘Law’.  Noah took on two of each animal and 7 (pairs) of each clean animal.  See Genesis 7:1-3.
  • In defense of eating anything, people like to point out that God gave ‘all things’ for food.  And this is true.  However, near the end of the ‘clean animals’ (kosher) lists (Deut. 14 and Leviticus 11), God makes the comments that we are to be holy for He is holy, and that the list is for us to learn to distinguish between clean and unclean.
  • Peter also tells us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).  One way of being holy is to only eat ‘clean’ animals.
  • Learning to distinguish between clean and unclean is training for leaning to distinguish between Godly and ungodly.

I realize that the whole issue of eating clean seems an anathema to Christians as Christians are ‘under grace, not under law.’  Well, that saying will be discussed later as it is a greatly misunderstood statement.  Mostly, though, I will just point out that neither Yeshua (Jesus) nor the apostles, nor anyone in the early Jerusalem church, ate pork or taught that it could be eaten.

However, before even discussing the ‘kosher’ laws with Christians, the question, “do you eat blood?” should be asked.  And when it is asked, a reply such as, “I’m not under the law!” is inevitably given.

There is a much ignored verse in the book of Acts.  In Acts 15 there is the account of the ‘Jerusalem council.’  The results of that council is a letter written and agreed upon by all apostles, elders (of the Jerusalem church) and Paul.  It is address to all Gentile churches.  Part of that letter states:

“…but [we] should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”  (ESV) Acts 15:20

So, before even wondering about clean / unclean, one needs to learn what is meant by not eating meat from a strangled animal and refraining from blood.

  • Yosef